Childhood maltreatment and the medical morbidity in bipolar disorder: a case–control study

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Hosang, Georgina
Fisher, Helen L
Uher, Rudolf
Cohen-Woods, Sarah
Maughan, Barbara
McGuffin, Peter W
Farmer, Anne E
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Springer Open
Background Childhood maltreatment (abuse and neglect) can have long-term deleterious consequences, including increased risk for medical and psychiatric illnesses, such as bipolar disorder in adulthood. Emerging evidence suggests that a history of childhood maltreatment is linked to the comorbidity between medical illnesses and mood disorders. However, existing studies on bipolar disorder have not yet explored the specific influence of child neglect and have not included comparisons with individuals without mood disorders (controls). This study aimed to extend the existing literature by examining the differential influence of child abuse and child neglect on medical morbidity in a sample of bipolar cases and controls. Methods The study included 72 participants with bipolar disorder and 354 psychiatrically healthy controls (average age of both groups was 48 years), who completed the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire, and were interviewed regarding various medical disorders. Results A history of any type of childhood maltreatment was significantly associated with a diagnosis of any medical illness (adjusted OR = 6.28, 95% confidence intervals 1.70–23.12, p = 0.006) and an increased number of medical illnesses (adjusted OR = 3.77, 95% confidence intervals 1.34–10.57, p = 0.012) among adults with bipolar disorder. Exposure to child abuse was more strongly associated with medical disorders than child neglect. No association between childhood maltreatment and medical morbidity was detected among controls. Conclusions To summarise, individuals with bipolar disorder who reported experiencing maltreatment during childhood, especially abuse, were at increased risk of suffering from medical illnesses and warrant greater clinical attention.
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Bipolar disorder, Childhood maltreatment, Medical illness, Physical health, Child abuse, Child neglect, Childhood adversity
Hosang, G. M., Fisher, H. L., Uher, R., Cohen-Woods, S., Maughan, B., McGuffin, P., & Farmer, A. E. (2017). Childhood maltreatment and the medical morbidity in bipolar disorder: a case–control study. International Journal of Bipolar Disorders, 5(1).